Find Your Family; DNA Testing for Adoption Search Success

adoption DNA testing help and support

Adoption Searches and DNA Testing

DNA testing has literally blown up many adoption searches in the last few years. There are many folks who have searched for their family for decades with no luck at all and then, after DNA testing, they found family. The whole concept of “sealed” Adoption records is practically moot now due to DNA testing.

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Try for Original Birth Certificate, get non-identifying information, ask family members what they know, add your name to reunion registries etc. You might get lucky and not need DNA testing. While DNA testing has solved cases with no other information, the process gets easier if you have some other data to help focus your efforts.

For all adoptees and others with unknown parents and/or grandparents, autosomal DNA testing is recommended. For autosomal DNA testing, start with either one of the big three. If at all possible, test at all three companies in order to “fish in all three ponds” for close family matches.

The three main DNA Testing Kit Sites are:


Males with unknown paternity should also order a Y-STR test (Y-37 level or higher). With this test it may be possible for a male to determine his genetic surname. Max Blankfeld of Family Tree DNA has estimated that this is possible about 30%-40% of the time.

Recently, there has been a lot of success with AncestryDNA and unknown parentage cases due to the large database and connected family trees. There are so many success stories using this method that it is important to give yourself the best chance possible because you never know in which database the key match will be found that will solve the mystery of your origins! AncestryDNA data may also be uploaded to FTDNA’s Family Finder database for a reduced price ($39), so if you test there first, you can be in both of those databases for less.

What’s with this GEDmatch?

You will also want to know GEDmatch

GEDmatch is a FREE, non-profit, “do-it-yourself” genomics website that allows DNA testers to upload raw data from FTDNA and other companies to compare with a large database of data that has been voluntarily uploaded by other testers.  Most of your matches from 23andMeFTDNA and Ancestry will not be there but the tools there are extremely useful.

Once your test results are posted, you should download your raw atDNA and X chromosome data and upload to Gedmatch.  Remember, for adoption searches, fishing in multiple ponds is better than one.  By having your data from all three major data bases you have a much better chance of finding a match.

Additional information and instructions to upload to Gedmatch can be found HERE.

DNA Search Help

DNA Detectives Group on Facebook

Genealogists focused on finding biological family for adoptees, foundlings, donor-conceived individuals, unknown paternity and all other types of unknown parentage cases. Testing recommendations here: The DNA Detectives also offers paid consulting ( for in depth and/or private assistance, but this site is for pro-bono advice on unknown parentage cases. (EVERYONE is welcome, not just adoptees.)

DNAAdoption Community

A group that helps Adoptees using DNA find their birth family.

DNA  Adoption has a great step by step DNA Testing guide to get you started and a list of DNA  Specific Adoption Search Angels for when you get stuck.

Richard Hill DNA Testing Advisor

Richard Hill provides free, private, personal advice on DNA Testing through a Feedback Form on his website.  He will also answer shorter questions publicly that are posted on the wall of this Facebook page.  Read MOTL’s review of his book “Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA” and our interview with Richard. 
A good basic overview of DNA testing for Adoption and many other links can be found here:

DNA Adoption Search Specific Websites:

Adoption and DNA

Helping adoptees and others affected by adoption rediscover their heritage through DNA testing


DNAGedcom is a free 3rd party site that offers downloads of complete DNA files and data (in text *.csv format) from FTDNA and 23andMe. It also supports GWorks, formerly the DOS based GedComUtility (GCU), for gedcom comparisons; JWorks and KWorks for triangulation and ICW segment comparison with your matches; the Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer and sponsors Autosomal DNA online classes. is a source for family history buffs to find genealogical research originally posted in GenForum and our most popular genealogy articles.

Read more articles and posts about Adoption Searches here

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